Qantas Airways ramps up lobbying ahead of joint venture bid

Qantas Airways ramps up lobbying ahead of joint venture bid
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Qantas Airways is ramping up its federal lobbying as the company prepares to revive a bid for a joint venture with American Airlines under the Trump administration.

The Australian air carrier has tapped Washington law firm Wiley Rein to lobby on the proposed alliance, according to disclosure forms. Scott Weaver, a former vice president of government and political affairs for the Airports Council International-North America and senior Capitol Hill staffer, is expected to serve as Qantas’s lobbyist.

American Airlines signaled earlier this year that it intends to reapply for permission from the Transportation Department for antitrust immunity, which would allow the company to coordinate prices and flight schedules and share revenue with Qantas.

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The Obama administration rejected a similar bid last year amid complaints from other airlines over unfair competition.

But American and Qantas can now refile their application under the new administration, where they are hoping for success. President Trump has promised to ease regulations and could have a lighter touch when it comes to antitrust enforcement.

The two airlines maintain that the joint venture will allow them to add new routes and lower fares. The proposed alliance would cover 60 percent of all flight seats between Australia and the U.S., according to Reuters.

"What we need to do is work out the implications, which we are still working through, and then talk about what we will do and review our options with the Trump administration," Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce told Reuters. "When we do, we will make an announcement of what our intentions are."